While we’re talking about design…

I’m a code geek that likes to tinker with design and illustration.  My weapon of choice is Xara Xtreme.  Most people in this arena choose Adobe Illustrator, but Xara works for me.  It’s also faster, easier to use, lighter and cheaper.  The only drawback is that it’s Windoze-ware only.  Actually, there is a Linux version that’s free, but it’s currently not maintained and lacks a slew of features compared to its Windoze counterpart.  So, for me, I have to run it in VMware or VirtualBox.  The only reason I use a VM is because of Xara… that’s how good it is.

Anyway, I’ve been tinkering around a lot lately with some of the illustration tools.  I recently stumbled upon Xara Xone and found some awesome tutorials.  I decided to put a few of those techniques to work using the photo of the cup that Paul posted in the previous post.  Within 10 minutes, I had this:

It’s far from being exact, but it’s pretty easy to trace an existing photo and create a vector based illustration.  During OOW, I sat down with Anthony and showed him a few of these techniques.  In no time, he was able to create his own avatar pretty easily.

This begs the question… why aren’t more engineers interested in creative design — aside from the reason, “I don’t have a creative bone in my body”?  It’s a great way to stretch your brain if you primarily code all day.  I find that it’s a nice way to do something totally different but totally useful too.  I think everyone innately has some creative skills, but many people don’t bother nurturing those skills.  I’ve seen some amazing art work from the kids at my boys’ preschool.  If these kids (2-6 years old) can kick out amazing art, why can’t many adults do it?  Is it a skill that degrades over time?  Or are people just not interested in it?

Being a good developer requires creative skills. Writing beautiful code is akin to creating something that’s visually pleasing.  Engaging in your creative side helps you improve those skills.  Alright, enough of the preaching.  Do you practice your creative muscles?  If so, sound off and tell us why you like using the other side of your brain.

AboutRich Manalang

a.k.a.: manalang


  1. I reckon that many do, Rich. Being something of a techie myself, one of my outlets is a music podcast. Purely by chance, I discovered that some of the music I played in the last episode is actually produced by another guy who works for the same company…

  2. Well… it must be the devs I work with then. I do know quite a few devs who are into music (creating it), but I don't see a lot dabbling in creative design.

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